As profits soar for Samoa Shipping, public complaints remain unanswered

Photo Credit: 
Press Secretariat, Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet
Passengers on the Samoa Shipping Corporation's MV Limulimutau, its very first vessel, brought to Samoa from the Philippines in 1974.

(SAMOA) — Profits for the Samoa Shipping Corporation soared by 200 percent in the ending of fiscal year 2016, according the Press Secretariat, but media inquiries on services between Salelologa and Mulifanua sent to SSC during the 2017-2018 holiday season, have yet to be answered.

The growth in profits for SSC was reported in a statement issued by the Press Secretariat, Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet in late February 2018.

Even as the statement was issued, the SSC had not responded to media inquiries received in December 2017.

The inquiries were sent to SSC, on behalf of disgruntled domestic passengers who phoned in to broadcast their complaints and questions on public radio.

(The questions were emailed to SSC during this writer's time with Samoa Planet.)

"By the end of fiscal year 2016, the Samoa Shipping Corporation  (SSC) had increased its net profit by more than 200% compared to the previous financial year," the statement reads.

The numbers were drawn from the SSC Annual Report approved by Parliament in January which upholds "the recommendations forwarded by the House Infrastructure Sector Committee which reviewed the Corporation's annual performance for the year in question," the statement continues.

Compared to the previous fiscal year (2014-2015) the SSC’s financial year under review (2015-2016) noted the following:

—Increase in revenue from $23.9 million to $29.2 million

—Increase in net profit from $1.9 million to $4.5 million

—Increase in shareholder fund from $20.9 million to $37.8 million

—Decrease interest bearing liabilities from $7.6 million to $6.6 million

—Expenditure increase from $21.2 million to $22.2 million

—Dividend increase from $0.925 million to $2.3 million

—Increase to total assets from $88.5 million to $100.9 million

—Increase in return on Equity Domestic services dominated the SSC’s revenue acquisition for the fiscal year in question and contributed 55%towards her total revenue of $29.2 million.

“Charter services also posted another solid performance with a significant increase in charter revenue by $7.9 million, which translates to an increase of 125.8% compared to the 2015 financial year and 45.5% better than the annual budget,” the reported noted.

For the same year, 48 graduates from the Maritime Academy found employment on the Corporation's Vessels reaffirming SSC’s commitment made to securing job opportunities for graduates as seafarers.

There will be no increase in fares in the immediate future with the House Infrastructure Sector Committee denying a request from SSC to increase fares.

The fare hike was proposed to offset increase costs of imported fuel and maintenance of the vessels coupled by dire improvements for the two domestic wharves at Mulifanua and Salelologa.

Founded 30 December 1974, the company started from a single barge, the MV Limulimutau bought from the Philippines. It served travel and vehicular services between Upolu and Savai'i. The present fleet includes 15 vessels with VIP and air-condition seating for the same route as well as Apia and American Samoa.

Media inquiries regarding Salelologa-Mulifanua departures were sent to SSC in late December 2017.

Public complaints aired via radio at the time were in regard to lack of receipts when purchasing tickets and the boat departing and leaving them behind. There was also a concern about the official price for a ticket.

Questions asked in December 2017 sought explanations on the proper procedure in regard to ticket purchases and customer receipts.

Additionally, scheduled departure times and standard operational procedures for prior announcement of departures from the Salelologa Wharf, were queried.

Receipt of emailed media inquiries by SSC was confirmed by the company's Media and Communications Officer. They were forwarded to management.

To date, there has been no reply from SSC.